"Hey Willow," Buffy smiled as she entered the kitchen and saw her best friend frowning over one of her mother's cookbooks. "So what do we have so far?" Willow glanced up with a look of helplessness crowding her features. Setting the book aside, she wordlessly motioned Buffy toward the refrigerator.
Pulling the door open to the frozen section, she pointed out each item. "We have this... this... and this," she held up each bag.
Incredulously, Buffy turned to the redhead. "You're finally cooking dinner for your girlfriend, and all you can think of is...," she tilted her head to see the packages, "freezer burned fish-sticks and frozen peas?"
Willow nodded; looking lost as she retrieved the cookbook and hopped onto the counter top. Squeezing the book in her hands, she wished a creative idea would appear in her mind.
"C'mon Willow," Buffy chuckled lightly, "no matter how many cookbooks you use, you're never going to turn fish-sticks into fillets."
"But it has to work," the redhead whined, "what else am I supposed to do?"
"You could always order-in and switch the containers," Buffy offered with a shrug, and regretted her suggestion with Willow suddenly perked up.
"Yes!" Willow scrambled from the counter and ran into the living room, "Where should I order from?" She asked when she found the phone book.
"You're not actually going to do that, are you? I was only kidding with you." Buffy flopped down on the couch and reached down, taking the phone book before Willow reached the 'R's'.
"Relax Will," Buffy went on, lightly tossing the book onto the table, "you'll think of something?"
"We?" Willow pressed and chewed her lower lip as she flashed Buffy a pitiful smile.
"Okay, we'll think of something," Buffy dramatically rolled her eyes. "When are you expecting Tara?" She asked, already forming a plan.
"A few hours," Willow replied, sheepishly.
"All right, here's what we're going to do." Buffy began as Willow listened eagerly. "First, you're going to get off your rump and drive me to the store." Nodding, the redhead easily agreed to the first proposition.
"Secondly, I am going to show you why I am the best friend you'll ever have," the cook grinned, "and why you will be doing my share of the chores for a week."
"Three days," Willow attempted to lessen the time.
"Nope," Buffy's smile grew, "but if you think Tara would be satisfied with soggy-sticks. We can do three days instead." She baited, waiting for Willow to give in.
"A week." Willow groaned as she accepted Buffy's terms. When the blonde stood and held out her hand, she frowned, staring at the five digits. "What?"
"Oh, don't think you're going to sucker your way out of this one," Buffy gestured for Willow to shake her hand. "And no crossed fingers." The redhead cursed and removed her other hand from behind her back. "Or toes." Buffy added as she glanced down, watching her friend unsuccessfully trying to rearrange her feet.
Willow mumbled another 'Damn' and went to fetch her coat and keys.
The two walked around the nearly empty grocery store, "What are you doing tonight?" Willow asked as she grabbed a few boxes of noodles, putting them in the shopping cart.
"Faith is stopping by later tonight. I was thinking we'd go out somewhere, but I'm not sure yet." Buffy took Willow's selection and placed it back onto the shelf, before reaching for a different brand.
It was the second time Buffy had replaced the redhead's choice. She loved her best friend, but it was obvious that cheap-o-Willow was putting quarters over quality.
"Oh," Willow emphasized the word with curious eyes. "Looks like I'm not the only one wining and dining tonight."
Buffy blushed and swatted Willow's arm, "It isn't like that," she added a silent 'yet'. "We talked about a few things, and I think I understand where she's coming from." She paused, remembering the subtle fear in both her and Faith's voice. "I mean, I know there's more we have to talk about, but we're good for now."
"Good?" Willow asked as her friend nodded. "Like good, good? Good enough for smooches, good?"
"Yes," Buffy blushed again, replaying the scene earlier in the kitchen.
"Maximum smooches?" Willow questioned, prying deeper with a smile.
"Maximum smooches?" Buffy frowned, "Is that with tongue?" She didn't notice as the other customers standing around, turned to look at them.
"Oh yeah," Willow's eyes glazed over as she replied. The teenager beside them, reddened with embarrassment, while her boyfriend's ears perked up.
Buffy gave her friend a 'maybe' look and grinned. She was enjoying the time with her best friend, and although mundane, just simply hanging out with Willow at the store, was something she had missed.
"C'mon, we better hurry," she checked her watch as they moved to the next aisle. "If I'm right, we should be able to get this in the oven and have some time to spare." The cook gave her friend a knowing looking, "Which I'm sure will be just enough time for you to pick out an outfit and frown over it in the mirror for a half-hour."
Willow prepared to argue, but knew it was true and closed her mouth. As her mind began envisioning possible clothing choices, she continued grabbing ingredients. Unfortunately, 99.9% of what she picked up never made it to the basket before Buffy intercepted it and switched with another item. It didn't help that whenever her friend switched, the price was more expensive than before. Forcing back the mental picture of her bank statement, the redhead relented and decided to put aside her cheapness for the occasion.
Buffy rounded the corner into Willow's room, and just as she had expected, she found the redhead standing before the mirror.
"Yes," Buffy rolled her eyes, cutting in before Willow had a chance to ask if she looked okay. "No," she interrupted again when it looked as if the redhead was about to speak.
"I haven't said anything," Willow pouted, pulling at the material of her blouse.
"Yes, you look great. No, you don't need to change," Buffy smiled, already knowing what her friend was going to ask.
"Buffy, let me talk," Willow childishly stomped her foot. When the blonde didn't say anything, Willow went on, "Okay, now... what does this look say to you? Honestly." She straightened her posture and posed for her friend.
"Well, what look are you going for?" Buffy asked, observing her friend's attire.
"'I'm your fiery sex-kitten?'" Willow offered with a sheepish grin.
"Hmm, more like...," Buffy paused and titled her head before continuing with a tearful, pleading tone, "'I swear I wasn't prostituting officer'."
Shocked, Willow frantically looked around, trying to find something, anything to throw. Her options consisted of a shoe and her earrings, both of which she needed, so instead she settled on a scowl.
"Hey, you asked," Buffy's cheeky grin threatened to break away from her face. The sound of the doorbell changed Willow's eyes from glare to panic. As she glanced back into the mirror, she could already hear Buffy jogging down the stairs, before she caught low voices in the foyer.
The redhead made her way down the stairs, stopping as she reached the bottom. Noticing that the scene lacked a certain beautiful blonde, she frowned.
"Oh, sorry Will," Buffy blushed, leaving her fingers intertwined with Faith's, as she pulled back from kissing the brunette. "I'm sure," the doorbell rung again, "see, she's here."
Tara smiled as Buffy opened the door. "Hi Buffy, Faith," her tone dropped when her eyes landed on those of her girlfriend. "Willow." The name was whispered as Tara stepped through the entrance and took in the redhead's appearance.
"Hi." Willow's voice was equally low and lustful. Buffy and Faith shared a look before turning back to the slightly dazed couple.
"Well," Buffy cleared her throat, "I guess that's our hint, huh Faith?"
"Looks that way to me," Faith chuckled and lightly squeezed her partner's hand.
The voices outside Tara's daydream finally broke the blonde from her trance. Crimson roses colored her cheeks as she and Willow both returned to their surroundings. "You look amazing," she shyly glanced at the floor before meeting green eyes again.
"Thanks." Her girlfriend's blush matched her own.
"Oh geez Tara, you just had to tell her that didn't you?" Buffy wanted to get a final jab at her best friend before leaving. "Now it's going to take me a whole month of insults to deflate her head."
"Shoo," Willow said, ushering the two laughing women out of the door. Shaking her head as she turned back to Tara, Willow grinned broadly. "Have I told you how beautiful you are?" She admired the light brown, knee length skirt and cream shirt the blonde wore.
Tara pretended to think about the question, but rather than using words, she used her lips to answer. She felt hands cradle the base of her neck and fingers sliding into her hair as Willow deepened the kiss.
Slightly out of breath, they both pulled back with sedated half-smiles. "Shall we," Willow gestured toward the kitchen. The aroma mixed with her lover's natural scent, pierced Tara's senses as she nodded.
Dinner was spent with shy glances, suggestive smiles, and a game of not-so-discreet footsie. Afterward, Tara had complimented on Willow's cooking several times, until the redhead finally admitted that she had help making the vegetable lasagna.
The confession earned her an 'I know and it's okay' smile from the blonde and a forgiving kiss.
"Next time, I'll cook for you. How is that?" Tara asked, joining Willow in the living room.
"Wonderful." Enjoying the quiet evening, Willow snuggled closer to the blonde as they settled onto the couch. "So," she grabbed the remote from the table, "movie of the week or all-night cartoons?" Willow asked, beginning to flip through each channel.
"I could settle for All-Night Willow." The blonde smiled at how Willow's cheeks puffed out as she blushed.
"Hmm, let me check," Willow paused dramatically, pretending to check the TV menu, "yep, she's on tonight." Grinning, she moved in and caught Tara's bottom lip between her teeth. She pulled gently and groaned when Tara countered the movement, catching the redhead's top lip. There was no point in fighting for dominance as Willow gave into Tara's soft probing.
Pulling back with a lopsided smile, Tara stopped and stared dreamily into emerald eyes. "I love you." Emotions threatened to spill over.
Willow found herself staring back, disbelief slightly crowding her thoughts. It was hard to believe that someone as special and beautiful as Tara could love someone as awkward as her. But she knew it was real. She saw it, felt it whenever she gazed into those revealing blues.
"I love you, too." She traced the corners of Tara's eyes with her thumbs before kissing away the ghosts' of her fingerprints.
The front door opening and closing, and the sight of a cautious looking blonde, brought the make-out session to a halt. "Did I interrupt?" Buffy smiled, knowing she'd gotten her answer when four frustrated and highly aroused eyes glanced her way. She cringed and silently disappeared into the kitchen before those eyes began throwing daggers.
"We can go upstairs," Willow whispered, but felt Tara shake her head.
"I should go." Regret was obvious in the blonde's voice, "I have that appointment with the Vet tomorrow before Xander's party." She bit her lip as she apologetically laced her fingers through Willow's hair.
Kissing the pout for Tara's mouth, Willow mumbled an 'okay' and reluctantly followed the blonde off the couch. Countless small kisses later, Willow finally said goodbye for the night when Tara's cab had arrived. She had offered to drive her home, but they both knew that Tara wouldn't make her appointment. Not because she would oversleep, but because she would want to spend the entire day in bed with the redhead.
With a sigh, Willow flopped back onto the couch, turning directly to the cartoon channel.
Stepping into the living room, Buffy watched as Willow reclined onto the sofa, a look of relaxation on her face. "Hey, um, don't you have some dishes that need washing?" She questioned with a smug expression on her face.
"No, it's your...," Willow trailed off and mumbled her third 'damn' of the evening before sulking into the kitchen.